Friday, October 12, 2007

Why There's No Wine Named For Noach

Citing Breishit Rabah, Rashi addresses the seemingly superfluous words “VaYichal Noach"(Breishit 8:20), and writes “he made himself profane for he should have involved himself first with another choice in planting.” Wine has a negative side and was therefore not the best choice for a first harvest in a new world.

Rabbi Yaakov Kranz (1741-1804), best remembered as the Magid of Dubno tells of a man was given the blessing that his first activity upon returning home would multiply forever. When he got there he screamed, “Get the money! Get the money!” His wife screamed back, questioning his rude greeting. A fight ensued, and for the rest of their lives their arguing multiplied.

The way that we begin is crucial. There is a strong probability that early negativity will grow as time goes by. Thus, it is why it is wise to pay careful attention to the way that we begin every every venture.

Rabi Yosi ben Kisma, was presented with a lucrative offer to be rabbi of a town. He turned it down, informing the man who made the proposition that he wouldn’t live anywhere other than a place of Torah even for all the money in the world. (Pirkei Avot 6:9)

Rabi Yosi's experience is a lesson in the importance of beginnings. He realized from the fact that this man spoke of money before anything else that in his community’s mind it came first. Rabi Yosi in turn illustrated what was most important to him by establishing that its being a place of Torah was priority one.

In what is still the beginning of the Jewish year, may G-d bless us to plant wisely.

P.S. Reader Dave has pointed out to me that there is a wine named after Noach. May it be for a tikkun. (See here.)

No comments: